By Leonard COUTIN
Orange County residents welcomed runners to their bonanza cross-country meet last weekend. A crowd of spectators attended the 35th Annual Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, a two-day pre-season event held at the Great Park facility in Irvine. The Classic allowed runners to be rated individually and as teams in each of the CIF divisions.
The Falcons’ running team has come off a stunning summer running program where distance and strength workouts were used to condition the runners. Now the athletes have hit the first wall, facing the difficulty of increasing the amount of speed work in their routines as the last three Invitational events have been on flat cross-country courses.
“We don’t do anything special to prepare for a flat course,” said CVHS Head Coach Mark Evans. “Our strength should help us.”
Sometimes the biggest challenge for a runner is switching gears, to swiftly get out onto the course and then falling into – and maintaining – a fast pace over the 3-mile course. The Falcons boys gave a solid performance in the highly rated race of the night called the Sweepstakes. They captured the 15th team spot on the boards. Falcon lead runner Colin FitzGerald positioned himself in the second group the first mile and was able to maintain his position running 23rd with a solid time of 14:57.7. CV’s Phillip Thomas ran second and managed to move up through the pack to place 52nd (15:24.2), followed by Robert McNelis at 86th (15:44.4) and Armin Cardenas-Nuno 104th (15:52.7).
Sophomore Zach Johnson scored 114th place (15:57.3) followed by Kyle Dickinson 126th (16:05.1). Freshman Manan Vats took 137th running a strong first time on the course (16:10.5).
“The boys are running well,” said Evans. “Kyle had an off night. We need to tighten our group. We need to have the other three to four [runners] within about five to 10 seconds of Philip.
“Colin had a great race. We are getting better with each race.”
The Falcons girls raced in the blue division varsity B race of the day and placed 10th as a team. From the start of the race, Falcon Grace McAuley carved out her spot. Trying to position herself not to be tripped at the start, she had a good presence from the beginning. Running well at the first mile, McAuley finished 11th (18:49.9). Arcadia runner Kelly Liang placed second (18:00.6) with her teammates helping to capture the overall team standings of seventh place.
CV’s Annie Meyers was able to take 40th (19:34.1), Elizabeth Hart placed 57th (19:5.9) and Emily Perkins 82nd (20:36.8). Teammate Hanna Leines ran 21.59.4 placing 112th.
Reviewing his girls’ team performance, Coach Evans said, “The girls are improving. Grace is running very well. The others are all improving. Emily is a great competitor and is running well.”
According to PrepCalTrack, the Burroughs varsity boys’ team has moved up the charts and is now ranked sixth with Arcadia ninth in Division 1. The Great Oak boys’ and girls’ teams are ranked first in Division 1. The Arcadia girls varsity team is ranked second. Flintridge boys and girls varsity teams are now ranked first in Division 5.
The Falcons will be running their first league meet at the Arcadia Park today, Thursday, Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m.